6 Important Leadership Questions You’ve Probably Never Asked Yourself

This week we are honored to have guest blogger, Jeff Havens,
with us here at Leadership Quest!

Lead with humility.  Listen actively.  Be nice and stuff.  Don’t embezzle.  Avoid throwing things at people.  Whatever your level and experience in the HR world – and even if you’re not in HR – you’ve heard all the standard leadership advice before.  It’s important to hear it occasionally, because all of us need to be reminded of these things from time to time.

But what about the questions you don’t often think to ask yourself?  Here are a few that don’t often come up in conversations about leadership but which you should definitely be asking yourself:

Have I Completely Surprised and Confused My Team Recently? 
If you haven’t, you totally should.  All of us have a tendency to do things the way we’ve always done them, and consequently we often resist changes because they’re unfamiliar.  (This is even more pronounced in the HR world, since risk mitigation is a central function of the HR professional, and change is nothing if not risky.)  But change is also the force that keeps life interesting and catapults mediocre performers into the stratosphere.  So if you’re in the habit of occasionally surprising people with an unexpected celebration, a new initiative, a bright pink stuffed animal sitting in the captain’s chair at your next department meeting – whatever comes to mind – you’ll also be training your team to expect the unexpected.

Has Anyone Told Me Lately How Badly I Screwed Up? 
Because I hate to say it, but you probably have.  All of us do, and the best leaders appreciate that you can’t have great successes without the occasional great failure.  Sony’s original name was Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK, and I guarantee someone eventually told those guys, “Hey, um, just a thought here, but why not – just hear me out here – why not name your company something that people can actually say?”  I’m sure you tell your subordinates when they screw up, partially to prevent it from happening again but also because that’s how you help them learn.  Which means that if no one is doing it for you, then how much can you really be learning?

Have I Had My Shoes Cleaned Recently? 
Especially important if you’re a guy, because it turns out that the quality and shininess of a man’s shoes is one of the first physical attributes about which others will judge him.  Who knew?

How Well Will Everything Function If Someone Suddenly Vanishes? 
Every so often, national sales executives get sick of all the airline pilots knowing them by name and abruptly turn in a two-week notice.  On a more somber note, occasionally CEOs die in small plane crashes.  It’s difficult to plan for the obsolescence of anyone at your organization, but that’s exactly what succession planning is designed to do.  The best HR leaders are at least in the process of making sure that the transition from current leadership to the next generation will be as smooth and uninterrupted as possible.

Am I Exercising Regularly? 
Nike’s CEO Mark Parker works out 7 days a week.  Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen holds many of his meetings during a bike ride.  David Petraeus (who was definitely an accomplished leader if not a particularly accomplished husband) cited physical fitness as the most important quality for effective leadership.  Regular exercise will give you more energy to do more work, or at the very least to better balance the demands of your personal and professional lives.  Plus you’ll get to wear those stretchy awesome workout clothes, and everyone looks great in those.

When Was the Last Time Someone Made A Joke At My Expense? 
I hope it was recently.  Forbes lists ‘sense of humor’ as one of the top ten qualities of a great leader, and nothing can cement that quality in you quite like being made fun of.  Besides, if people aren’t laughing with you, then they’re probably laughing at you behind your back.  Because I guarantee you’ve done something dumb lately.  Don’t worry too much about that, though.  Everyone else has, too.

About Jeff Havens:
Learn more about Jeff by visiting www.JeffHavens.com

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vanderbilt University, Jeff has quickly become one of the most in-demand presenters in North America.  His truly unprecedented ability to deliver high-quality education in an undeniably entertaining way has earned him dozens of repeat clients, all of whom appreciate Jeff’s insistence that education is the only way that we improve at anything and that we’ll all improve better and faster if we enjoy the learning process.  By combining the content of the traditional presentation with the entertainment value of a comedy show, Jeff has found enthusiastic audiences in government, academia, small businesses and several Fortune 50 companies, all while still being one of the youngest members of the professional speaking circuit.

The Jeff Havens Company exists because of Jeff’s firm belief that making learning fun is the quickest, cheapest, and most effective way to create a culture where people are eager to continually improve.  Whether you want to improve your leadership or change management strategies, whether you want a plug-and-play solution or something more perfectly tailored to your particular needs – if it’s important to you, we’ll make it fun.  Because here at The Jeff Havens Company, we know that improving your business doesn’t have to be boring.

Steve Gutzler

Steve Gutzler is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly-sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 2,500 presentations to a list of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, Pandora Radio, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, the Ritz Carlton group, and the U.S. Social Security Administration. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media.

A published author on leadership and emotional intelligence, Steve resides near Seattle with his wife Julie where they enjoy time with their three adult children and six grandchildren.